As part of National Nutrition Month in March, Nutritional Services at Northern Arizona Healthcare's Verde Valley Medical Center is emphasizing the importance of fiber in your diet.
"Fiber aids in digestive health, blood glucose control, heart health and weight management," said registered dietitian Lisa Hill.
Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble, and is found in whole grains such as brown rice, 100 percent whole wheat, beans, fruits and vegetables.
Insoluble fiber is generally found in the outer skins of fruits and vegetables, the outer layers of whole grains and the hulls of seeds. Because the body cannot digest it, insoluble fiber helps to improve digestive health by speeding up the passage of food and waste.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in oats, barley, beans and the flesh of fruits. It helps lower cholesterol and control blood glucose levels, supporting heart health and diabetes management and prevention.
Fiber adds bulk to the diet, which makes us feel full longer and slows the breakdown of food. This gives us a steady supply of energy versus short bursts of energy from low-fiber versions of the same foods.
Most adults should eat between 25 and 38 grams of fiber per day. To achieve this goal:
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Choose whole grains instead of white processed foods. For example, choose brown rice over white rice and whole wheat breads and pastas over those made with white flour.
Compare labels on breakfast cereals and choose those with 5 grams of fiber or more per serving.
Choose fruits, vegetables and a small handful of whole nuts for mid-day snacks instead of chips.
If a high-fiber diet is new to you, add fiber gradually to allow your body to adjust. Start with 10 grams per day and add more as you can tolerate it.
Verde Valley Medical Center is a member of Northern Arizona Healthcare, which also provides healthcare services through Flagstaff Medical Center, Team Health, Verde Valley Medical Clinic, Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare, EntireCare Rehab & Sports Medicine, Fit Kids of Arizona, Guardian Air, Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, Northern Arizona Homecare, Northern Arizona Hospice and Valley View Care.
For more information on Verde Valley Medical Center programs and services, visit VerdeValleyMedicalCenter.com. "Like" VVMC at Facebook.com/VerdeValleyMedicalCenter.